Lean Change Validation: Kotter's Formula

In today’s globally competitive business, change is considered as a vital step. It helps in stabilising the competitive edge and in responding faster to customer needs.

Many organisations, however, are failing at this critical business element as the change agents responsible for enacting the change are not providing enough personal motivation. Thus, managing change means getting the organisation to accept change, understand the elements and to execute it proficiently.

How Does Change Agents Help An Organization To Change

Every organisational change, whether large or small, requires one or more change agents. A change agent is a person which may or may not belong to an organisation but who helps the organisation in transforming itself in focusing on effectiveness, improvement and development. They are also categorised as External change agents and Internal change agents. Though external change agents and internal change agents have different roles, the main objective becomes perspective.

Change agents cannot succeed without persistence, as change, is a very complex and a labour-extensive process that involves feelings and emotions. They are often quoted as,

The only way to help people move forward
is by building relationships and understanding where their
journey begins, not focusing solely on where you want them to be.”  


At the initial stages of change, change agents understand the need for change, areas where change can be more beneficial for the organisation and the consequences that will be affected by change. Working with internal and external change agents together develops mutual trust, smoothens the process of change and makes it move as an ongoing process.

Validating Change Using Lean Method

 The Lean Change method is for change agents. It provides a scientific approach to promoting the adoption of lean practices at the team, department and the organisation level. Lean Method is the principled approach to new product development. Many companies have applied lean management techniques to their manufacturing and operations, with a mindset of improving the quality and increasing the efficiency.

 How does lean help in change management? The following highlights how Lean Method applies to change management:-

  • Identification of the necessary changes - Lean management helps in providing the right decisions which must be made and the management techniques which must be created.

  • Divided into different stages - The techniques are divided into stages to reduce the number of activities that are performed at the wrong time.
  • Delivering, Organising and Focusing - Lean helps in delivering business valued work to customer frequently, thus, creating a customer oriented feedback loop. The method also organises work delivered by teams that are cross-functional and self-organizing. It also helps in focusing on a limited set of business value tasks at a time.

Managing Change Through Kotter’s Change Lifecycle

Dr John Paul Kotter, a professor at the Harvard Business School established the change lifecycle well known as the Eight Steps Of Change. This eight-step change lifecycle has been used for over a decade to help guide large-scale managed change initiatives.  

For his famous book, “The Heart Of Change”, John Kotter worked to look into the core problems people face when leading change. He concluded that the central issue was changing the behaviour of the people and that successful change occurs when speaking to people’s feelings. He also recommended that organisational change starts with building urgency and regulate quick wins using a coalition of eager change adapters.

Kotter's different phases of change process are as follows:-

  • Create a Sense of Urgency - The change leaders need to generate a sense of urgency about the task at hand and get the right team together to deliver transformational change.


  • Build a Guiding Team - Kotter suggests that convincing people about change require strong leadership and key people within the organisation. Hence with a team of coalition or of influence whose powers comes from a variety of sources, the team can work together with great momentum around the need for change.


  • Develop a Change Vision - Create a vision to help direct the change effort and develop strategies for achieving that vision.   


  • Communicate for Buy-in - Using every channel and vehicle of communication possible to communicate the new vision and strategies.


  • Empowering Action - Action can only be implemented by removing the obstacles to the change and the change systems or structures that work against the vision.


  • Create Short Term Wins - To achieve short term wins, it is necessary to plan for and create visible performance improvements. It is also necessary to recognise and reward those involved in bringing the improvements to the success.


  • Don't Let Up - Kotter argues that many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change.


  • Make Change Stick - Make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your organisation. This will help give that change a solid place in your organisation's culture.


















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